One of the many things that sets Accordion City’s iconic discount department store Honest Ed’s from other retailers is its use of hand-painted signs made by people like Wayne Reuben. Honest Ed’s has been using hand-painted signs since it opened in 1948; Wayne started painting for them in 1967 and after stints with other employers, has been painting full-time for them since 1994. Trends in graphic design and signmaking have come and gone through Wayne’s career, but his Honest Ed’s signage style has remained constant, right down to the rule about which colours to use (“Honest Ed” Mirvish used to borrow a line from Henry Ford, insisting that prices on the signs “can be done in any colour, so long as it’s red”). It would be so temptingly easy for them to save time and money and switch to laser-printed signs, but without them, Honest Ed’s would lose a bit of its character, something it needs to keep people coming at a time when there are plenty of Walmarts and Target finally opening in Canada next year.
The Toronto Star recently did a story on Wayne Reuben, and its hipper sister publication The Grid followed up with a video interview on its site, shown below. It’s fascinating to see someone doing this sort of work and enjoying it greatly — as he says in the interview: “It’s like I tell my kids, if you find a job you love, you’ll never work a day in your life.”